Natural science tells us that the world is fundamentally physical - everything is ultimately constituted by physical properties and governed by physical laws. How do we square this picture of the world with the apparent fact that there are genuine causal relations at levels that aren’t described by physics? The problem of mental causation is at the heart of this issue. There are probably two reasons for this. Firstly, if there are any non-physical properties at all, surely mental properties are (...) among them. And secondly, the reality of mental causation is arguably more important to us than the reality of any other kind of causation. Without it, it would be hard for us to make sense of ourselves as agents with free will and moral responsibility. The main purpose of this thesis is to defend a view that accepts a scientific worldview and still allows for mental properties to exist, be non-physical, and be genuine causes of actions and behaviour. Some philosophers are pessimistic that all these goals can be achieved. They think that the only way for mental properties to fit into the causal structure of the world is if these mental properties are really physical properties. I do not find the argument for this view compelling. As I will show, it relies on an implausibly strong constraint on causes that must be amended. Once amended, a new position emerges, the so-called Subset view, which is actually motivated by the very premises that initially pushed us towards a reductive view of mental properties. (shrink)
Lei Zhong (2012. Counterfactuals, regularity and the autonomy approach. Analysis 72: 75–85) argues that non-reductive physicalists cannot establish the autonomy of mental causation by adopting a counterfactual theory of causation since such a theory supports a so-called downward causation argument which rules out mental-to-mental causation. We respond that non-reductive physicalists can consistently resist Zhong's downward causation argument as it equivocates between two familiar notions of a physical realizer.
Do determinable properties such as colour, mass, and height exist in addition to their corresponding determinates, being red, having a mass of 1 kilogram, and having a height of 2 metres? Optimists say yes, pessimists say no. Among the latter are Carl Gillett and Bradley Rives who argue that optimism leads to systematic overdetermination of causal powers and hence should be rejected on the grounds that the position is ontologically unparsimonious. In this paper I defend optimism against this charge by (...) showing that overdetermination of causal powers cannot plausibly be avoided when grounding what I call joint powers. It is therefore not clear why the optimist should be worried about the overdetermination of causal powers that follows from positing determinable properties. (shrink)
Oregon is the only state in the United States where a physician may legally prescribe a lethal dose of barbiturate for a patient intending suicide. The Oregon Death with Dignity Act was passed by voters in 1994 and came into effect after much legal wrangling in October of 1997. At the same time, a cabinetmaker named Pat Matheny was struggling with progressive weakness from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS. I met with Pat and his family for a lengthy interview in (...) October 1998 in Coos Bay, Oregon, for a television news report on his decision to get a lethal prescription. Below is an extract from that interview. On the day this introduction was written, 10 March 1999, Pat took the prescribed lethal overdose of barbiturates and died at home. His illness was taking his voice, he could not move his hands or legs, and breathing was becoming very difficult. His mother told me he knew that was for him. (shrink)
Qual è il valore pratico della filosofia? La tradizione tramanda un verdetto duplice. Da una parte, il sapiente è colui che sa vivere, poiché conosce cosa è bene e come realizzarlo; dall’altra, il filosofo è inesperto del mondo ed esibisce in prima persona l’inutilità del suo sapere. Ma come si misura l’utilità del sapere filosofico? In questi scritti inediti risalenti agli anni canadesi (1949-1956), tradotti per la prima volta, Hans Jonas si interroga sul significato vitale e umano dell’esperienza filosofica, (...) intrecciando un vivace dialogo con gli autori antichi e lasciando emergere, nel confronto con essi, i lineamenti della sua filosofia dell’organico. (shrink)
In this essay, Mark Jonas argues that there are three broadly held misconceptions of Plato's philosophy that work against his relevance for contemporary moral education. The first is that he is an intellectualist who is concerned only with the cognitive aspect of moral development and does not sufficiently emphasize the affective and conative aspects; the second is that he is an elitist who believes that only philosopher-kings can attain true knowledge of virtue and it is they who should govern (...) society; the third is that he affirms the realm of the Forms as a literal metaphysical reality and believes that for individuals to attain virtue they must access this realm through contemplation. The goal of this essay is to correct these misconceptions. The rehabilitation of Plato's reputation may enable future researchers in moral education to discover in his philosophy new avenues for exploring how best to cultivate virtues in students. (shrink)
Seeking to expand on previous theories, this paper explores the AIR (Applying Intelligence to the Reflexes) approach to expert performance previously outlined by Geeves, Christensen, Sutton and McIlwain (2008). Data gathered from a semi-structured interview investigating the performance experience of Jeremy Kelshaw (JK), a professional musician, is explored. Although JK’s experience of music performance contains inherently uncertain elements, his phenomenological description of an ideal performance is tied to notions of vibe, connection and environment. The dynamic nature of music performance (...) advocated by the AIR approach is illustrated by the strategies that JK implements during performance. Through executing these strategies, JK attempts to increase the likelihood of vibe and connection by selectively exercising agency over performance variables within his control. In order to achieve this, JK must engage in ongoing monitoring of his performance, whereby the spotlight of his attention pans across a vast array of disparate performance processes (and levels within these processes) in order to ascertain how he can most effectively meet the specific demands of a given performance situation. It is hoped that future research compiling data from numerous interviews and sources as well as using different research methodologies will further unlock the potential that the AIR approach holds for understanding expert performance. (shrink)
A classic of phenomenology and existentialism and arguably Jonas's greatest work, The Phenomenon of Life sets forth a systematic and comprehensive philosophy -- an existential interpretation of biological facts laid out in support of Jonas ...
This book explores the ways in which humor can enhance the learning environment. Drawing upon empirical research and brain-based concepts, Jonas presents a theoretical model of humor, along with practical examples for enhancing learning in schools and classrooms.
From the late eighteenth through the end of the nineteenth century, educational philosophers and practitioners debated the benefits and shortcomings of the use of emulation in schools. During this period, “emulation” referred to a pedagogy that leveraged comparisons between students as a tool to motivate them to higher achievement. Many educationists praised emulation as a necessary and effective motivator. Other educationists condemned it for its tendency to foster invidious competition between students and to devalue learning. Ultimately, by the late nineteenth (...) century emulation as a specific pedagogical practice had disappeared in American educational culture. In this article, Mark Jonas and Drew Chambers ask whether the disappearance of emulation is something to be celebrated or lamented. To answer this question they examine the historical concept of educational emulation and analyze the bases on which proponents and opponents argued. Parties on both sides of the debate framed their arguments in close relation to the way emulation was being used at that time, which prioritized actual competitions and prizes. In that context, the opponents made a better case, which presumably contributed to emulation's disappearance in schools afterwards. However, as earlier proponents of emulation argued, emulation need not be restricted to competitions and prizes. Instead, these proponents offered a philosophically and psychologically rich defense of emulation, but these were not carried through to an appropriate degree. The authors conclude that, construed appropriately, emulation not only had tremendous educational potential then, but still does today. With intentional effort on the part of teachers, emulation can greatly enrich students' lives and act as a powerful learning motivator. (shrink)
[W. J. T.] Mitchell focuses on the exemplary status of the Wall of Fame in Sal’s Pizzeria, “an array of signed publicity photos of Italian-American stars in sports, movies, and popular music” . He argues that the Wall “exemplifies the central contradictions of public art” . “The Wall,” he writes, “is important to Sal not just because it displays famous Italians but because they are famous Americans … who have made it possible for Italians to think of themselves as Americans, (...) full-fledged members of the general public sphere” . For Buggin’ Out, the young black customer who angrily objects to the absence of photos of black people, the Wall “signifies exclusion from the public sphere” . Although the streets are saturated with images of “African-American heroes,” those “tokens of self-respect” are not enough for Buggin’ Out, who wants “the respect of whites, the acknowledgment that African-Americans are hyphenated Americans, too, just like Italians” . Mitchell astutely interprets the desired integration of the Wall as merely a symptom of a larger struggle for “full economic participation. As long as blacks do not own private property in this society,” he states, “they remain in something like the status of public art, mere ornaments to the public place, entertaining statues and abstract caricatures rather than full human beings” . By foregrounding the economic implications of the film, Mitchell has surely engaged one of the dominant goals of the man who formed Forty Acres and a Mule Productions and who recently opened the store called Spike’s Joint in New York City. Yet Mitchell’s sympathetic account belies the countercurrents that trouble the ostensible progressiveness of Spike Lee’s ambitious art. Jerome Christensen teaches in the English department at Johns Hopkins University. He is the author of books on Coleridge and Hume and one forthcoming on Byron. Currently, he is completing a study of the continued pertinence of the romantic turn of mind called Romantic Theory, Romantic Practice. (shrink)
If you are anything like me, you may feel yourself unsure of what, as a critic these days, you ought to be talking about—whether literature qua literature, literature as rhetoric, literature as politics or as history, whether about the persistence of romanticism or the waxing of postmodernism, the decline of Yale or the rise of Duke. If, like me, you are puzzled by what we now ought to be about, you may also be like Paul de Man, who bespoke a (...) similar concern: “In a manner that is more acute for theoreticians of literature than for theoreticians of the natural or the social world, it can be said that they do not quite know what it is they are talking about, … that, whenever one is supposed to speak of literature, one speaks of anything under the sun except literature. The need for determination,” de Man concludes, “thus becomes all the stronger as a way to safeguard a discipline which constantly threatens to degenerate into gossip, trivia or self-obsession,”1De Man’s wishes are rarely fulfilled, and this instance is no exception. Despite the critic’s determinations, theory, it turns out, is the story of the failure of safeguards to do the job for which they are designed. There is no better instance of that ironic truth than the career of Paul de Man. No critic has fallen farther despite his determination; from a paragon of analytical rigor, he has become the most gossiped about critic of the late 1980s 1. Paul de Man, The Resistance to Theory , p. 29; hereafter abbreviated RT. Jerome Christensen teaches English at The Johns Hopkins University. He is the author of Coleridge’s Blessed Machine of language and Practicing Enlightenment: Hume and the Formation of a Literary Career . This essay is part of a work in progress entitled Prefigurations: Romantic Theory and Romantic Practice. (shrink)
O texto apresentado a seguir é uma traduçáo da conferência intitulada “The Burden and Blessing of Mortality” ( The Hastings Center Report , 22, n. 1, jan-fev. 1992, p. 34-40), que foi apresentada à Fundaçáo do Palácio Real [The Royal Palace Foundation], em Amsterdam, no dia 19 de março de 1991. Esta conferência foi traduzida para o alemáo por Reinhard Löw e revisada pelo próprio Jonas, aparecendo com o título “Last und Segen der Sterblichkeit” em Scheidewege 21, 1991/92, p. (...) 26-40, e mais tarde em um livro do próprio Jonas: Philosophische Untersuchungen und metaphysische Vermutungen [Investigações Filosóficas e Suposições Metafísicas] . Frankfurt am Main: Insel Verlag, 1992, p. 81-100. Por sua vez, o texto original, em inglês, veio ainda a fazer parte de uma coletânea de ensaios de Jonas, editada por Lawrence Vogel ( Mortality and Morality : a search for good after Auschwits. Ed. Lawrence Vogel. Evanston, Illinois: Northwestern University Press, 1996, p. 87-97). (shrink)
While a great deal has been written on Plato's Lysis in philosophy and philology journals over the last thirty years, nothing has been published on Lysis in the major Anglo-American philosophy of education journals during that time. Nevertheless, this dialogue deserves attention from educators. In this essay, Mark Jonas argues that Lysis can serve as a model for educators who want to move their students beyond mere aporia, but also do not want to dictate answers to students. Although the (...) dialogue ends in Socrates's affirmation of aporia, his affirmation is actually meant to persuade his interlocutors to reflect on an epiphany they had previously experienced. In what follows, Jonas offers a close reading of relevant passages of Lysis, demonstrating the way that Socrates leads his interlocutors to an epiphany without forcing his answers upon them. (shrink)
In his recent book Criticism and Social Change Frank Lentricchia melodramatically pits his critical hero Kenneth Burke, advocate of the intellect’s intervention in social life, against the villainous Paul de Man, “undisputed master in the United States of what is called deconstruction.” Lentricchia charges that “the insidious effect of [de Man’s] work is not the proliferating replication of his way of reading … but the paralysis of praxis itself: an effect that traditionalism, with its liberal view of the division of (...) culture and political power, should only applaud.”1 He goes on to prophesy thatThe deconstruction of deconstruction will reveal, against apparent intention, a tacit political agenda after all, one that can only embarrass deconstruction, particularly its younger proponents whose activist experiences within the socially wrenching upheavals of the 1960s and early 1970s will surely not permit them easily to relax, without guilt and self-hatred, into resignation and ivory tower despair. [CSC, p. 40]Such is Lentricchia’s strenuous conjuration of a historical moment in which he can forcefully intervene—a summons fraught with the pathos excited by any reference to the heady days of political enthusiasm during the war in Vietnam. Lentricchia ominously figures a scene of rueful solitude where de Manian lucidity breaks into the big chill. And maybe it will. But Lentricchia furnishes no good reason why it should. De Manian deconstruction is “deconstructed” by Lentricchia to reveal “against apparent intention, a tacit political agenda.” And this revelation is advertised as a sure embarrassment to the younger practitioners of deconstruction—sweepingly characterized as erstwhile political activists who have, wide-eyed, opted for a critical approach that magically entangles its proponents in the soul-destroying delights of rhetoric and reaction. Left unexamined in Lentricchia’s story, however, is the basis for the initial rapport between radicalism and deconstruction. Why should collegiate activists have turned into deconstructionsists? Is not that, in Lentricchia’s terms, the same question as asking why political activists should have turned to literary criticism at all? If we suppose this original turn to be intentional, how could the initiates of this critical approach ever be genuinely betrayed into embarrassment by time or by its herald, Frank Lentricchia? On the face of it, the traducement of a secret intention would be unlikely to come as a surprise, since deconstructing deconstruction is not only the enterprise of Marxist critics like Lentricchia but also of Jacques Derrida, archdeconstructor, who unashamedly identified the embarrassment of intention as constitutive of the deconstructive method. If deconstruction is at once a natural outlet for activists and the first step on a slippery slope that ends in apostasy , it suggests a phenomenon with contours more suggestively intricate, if not less diabolically seductive, than the program Lentricchia outlines. And it is a phenomenon as worrisomely affiliative as it is bafflingly intricate. We need to know whether the relations between deconstruction and radical politics, between deconstruction and apostasy between deconstruction and criticism, and between apostasy and criticism are necessary or contingent, or neither and both at once. 1. Frank Lentricchia, Criticism and Social Change , p. 38; all further references to this work, abbreviated CSC, will be included in the text. Jerome Christensen, professor of English at the Johns Hopkins University, is the author of Coleridge’s Blessed Machine of Language and the forthcoming Hume’s Practice: The Career of an Enlightenment Man of Letters. He is currently at work on a study of Byron and the issue of strong romanticism. (shrink)
The ancient Stoics repeatedly stressed the monolithic comprehensiveness of their philosophy, and this book is the only one to provide a holistic grasp of their attempt to synthesize the whole of the human condition into a unified view. Originally published in 1962, _An Essay on the Unity of Stoic Philosophy_ was far ahead of its time. Now a pivotal text, it lays out the core ideas of Stoicism and their interconnection against the backdrop of Aristotelian philosophy, providing a coherent understanding (...) of the many—and sometimes divergent—philosophies the Stoics formulated. At once penetrating and lucid, Johnny Christensen’s book is brought back into print in a second edition for a new audience. (shrink)
In this highly original study, Jerome Christensen reconstructs the career of a representative Enlightenment man of letters, David Hume. In doing so, Christensen develops a prototype for a post-structuralist biography. Christensen motivates the interplay between Hume’s texts as arguments and as symbolic acts by conceiving of Hume’s literary career as an adaptive discursive practice, the projected and performed narrative of his social life. Students and scholars of eighteenth-century English and French literature, feminist studies, political theory and history, (...) philosophy, and intellectual history will welcome this unprecedented and challenging view of David Hume and his times. (shrink)
Revenge has been a subject of concern in most intellectual traditions throughout history, and even when social norms regard it as permissible or even obligatory, it is commonly recognised as being more counterproductive than beneficial. In this book, Kit R. Christensen explores this provocative issue, offering an in-depth account of both the nature of revenge and the causes and consequences of the desire for this kind of retaliatory violence. He then develops a version of eudaimonistic consequentialism to argue that (...) vengeance is never morally justified, and applies this to cases of intergroup violence where the lust for revenge against a vilified 'Them' is easily incited and often exploited. His study will interest a wide range of readers in moral philosophy as well as social philosophers, legal theorists, and social/behavioural scientists. (shrink)
De tous les livres de Hans Jonas, ce sont les Essais philosophiques qui ont le caractère le plus multidisciplinaire : ils portent sur l’éthique, la philosophie de la nature, de l’esprit, de l’histoire et la philosophie de la religion… Mais ce recueil n’est pas pour autant éclectique. Car au-delà de la diversité de ses objets, il constitue une remarquable illustration du chemin de pensée que s’est frayé le philosophe à travers des champs d’investigation multiples et apparemment hétérogènes. C’est ainsi (...) qu’au fil de textes qui furent publiés entre Le Phénomène de la vie et Le principe responsabilité, on retrouve ici la dette du philosophe à l’égard de Heidegger, l’inspiration spinoziste de sa philosophie de la nature, les racines de son éthique de la responsabilité et un commun dénominateur de toutes ses recherches philosophiques : les concepts apparentés de liberté, de volonté et de valeur qui animent sa pensée comme autant de facteurs de résistance à la menace du réductionnisme. (shrink)
Can art, religion, or philosophy afford ineffable insights? If so, what are they? The idea of ineffability has puzzled philosophers from Laozi to Wittgenstein. In Ineffability and its Metaphysics: The Unspeakable in Art, Religion and Philosophy, Silvia Jonas examines different ways of thinking about what ineffable insights might involve metaphysically, and shows which of these are in fact incoherent. Jonas discusses the concepts of ineffable properties and objects, ineffable propositions, ineffable content, and ineffable knowledge, examining the metaphysical pitfalls (...) involved in these concepts. Ultimately, she defends the idea that ineffable insights as found in aesthetic, religious, and philosophical contexts are best understood in terms of self-acquaintance, a particular kind of non-propositional knowledge. Ineffability as a philosophical topic is as old as the history of philosophy itself, but contributions to the exploration of ineffability have been sparse. The theory developed by Jonas makes the concept tangible and usable in many different philosophical contexts. (shrink)
Sometimes we get evidence of our own epistemic malfunction. This can come from finding out we’re fatigued, or have been drugged, or that other competent and well-informed thinkers disagree with our beliefs. This sort of evidence seems to seems to behave differently from ordinary evidence about the world. In particular, getting such evidence can put agents in a position where the most rational response involves violating some epistemic ideal.
Responding rationally to the information that others disagree with one’s beliefs requires assessing the epistemic credentials of the opposing beliefs. Conciliatory accounts of disagreement flow in part from holding that these assessments must be independent from one’s own initial reasoning on the disputed matter. I argue that this claim, properly understood, does not have the untoward consequences some have worried about. Moreover, some of the difficulties it does engender must be faced by many less conciliatory accounts of disagreement.
What role, if any, does formal logic play in characterizing epistemically rational belief? Traditionally, belief is seen in a binary way - either one believes a proposition, or one doesn't. Given this picture, it is attractive to impose certain deductive constraints on rational belief: that one's beliefs be logically consistent, and that one believe the logical consequences of one's beliefs. A less popular picture sees belief as a graded phenomenon.
How much should your confidence in your beliefs be shaken when you learn that others – perhaps 'epistemic peers' who seem as well-qualified as you are – hold beliefs contrary to yours? This article describes motivations that push different philosophers towards opposite answers to this question. It identifies a key theoretical principle that divides current writers on the epistemology of disagreement. It then examines arguments bearing on that principle, and on the wider issue. It ends by describing some outstanding questions (...) that thinking about this issue raises. (shrink)
‘There is no place in the phenomenology of fully absorbed coping’, writes Hubert Dreyfus, ‘for mindfulness. In flow, as Sartre sees, there are only attractive and repulsive forces drawing appropriate activity out of an active body’1. Among the many ways in which history animates dynamical systems at a range of distinctive timescales, the phenomena of embodied human habit, skilful movement, and absorbed coping are among the most pervasive and mundane, and the most philosophically puzzling. In this essay we examine both (...) habitual and skilled movement, sketching the outlines of a multidimensional framework within which the many differences across distinctive cases and domains might be fruitfully understood. Both the range of movement phenomena which can plausibly be seen as instances of habit or skill, and the space of possible theories of such phenomena are richer and more disparate than philosophy easily encompasses. We seek to bring phenomenology into contact with relevant movements in psychological theories of skilful action, in the belief that phenomenological philosophy and cognitive science can be allies rather than antagonists. (shrink)
Formally-inclined epistemologists often theorize about ideally rational agents--agents who exemplify rational ideals, such as probabilistic coherence, that human beings could never fully realize. This approach can be defended against the well-know worry that abstracting from human cognitive imperfections deprives the approach of interest. But a different worry arises when we ask what an ideal agent should believe about her own cognitive perfection (even an agent who is in fact cognitively perfect might, it would seem, be uncertain of this fact). Consideration (...) of this question reveals an interesting feature of the structure of our epistemic ideals: for agents with limited information, our epistemic ideals turn out to conflict with one another. (shrink)
Expert skill in music performance involves an apparent paradox. On stage, expert musicians are required accurately to retrieve information that has been encoded over hours of practice. Yet they must also remain open to the demands of the ever-changing situational contingencies with which they are faced during performance. To further explore this apparent paradox and the way in which it is negotiated by expert musicians, this article profiles theories presented by Roger Chaffin, Hubert Dreyfus and Tony and Helga Noice. For (...) Chaffin, expert skill in music performance relies solely upon overarching mental representations, while, for Dreyfus, such representations are needed only by novices, while experts rely on a more embodied form of coping. Between Chaffin and Dreyfus sit the Noices, who argue that both overarching cognitive structures and embodied processes underlie expert skill. We then present the Applying Intelligence to the Reflexes (AIR) approach?a differently nuanced model of expert skill aligned with the integrative spirit of the Noices? research. The AIR approach suggests that musicians negotiate the apparent paradox of expert skill via a mindedness that allows flexibility of attention during music performance. We offer data from recent doctoral research conducted by the first author of this article to demonstrate at a practical level the usefulness of the AIR approach when attempting to understand the complexities of expert skill in music performance. (shrink)
A number of philosophers, from Thomas Reid1 through C. A. J. Coady2, have argued that one is justified in relying on the testimony of others, and furthermore, that this should be taken as a basic epistemic presumption. If such a general presumption were not ultimately dependent on evidence for the reliability of other people, the ground for this presumption would be a priori. Such a presumption would then have a status like that which Roderick Chisholm claims for the epistemic principle (...) that we are justified in believing what our senses tell us. (shrink)
This paper outlines an original interactivist-constructivist approach to modelling intelligence and learning as a dynamical embodied form of adaptiveness and explores some applications of I-C to understanding the way cognitive learning is realized in the brain. Two key ideas for conceptualizing intelligence within this framework are developed. These are: intelligence is centrally concerned with the capacity for coherent, context-sensitive, self-directed management of interaction; and the primary model for cognitive learning is anticipative skill construction. Self-directedness is a capacity for integrative process (...) modulation which allows a system to "steer" itself through its world by anticipatively matching its own viability requirements to interaction with its environment. Because the adaptive interaction processes required of intelligent systems are too complex for effective action to be prespecified learning is an important component of intelligence. A model of self-directed anticipative learning is formulated based on interactive skill construction, and argued to constitute a central constructivist process involved in cognitive development. SDAL illuminates the capacity of intelligent learners to start with the vague, poorly defined problems typically posed in realistic learning situations and progressively refine them, transforming them into problems with sufficient structure to guide the construction of a solution. Finally, some of the implications of I-C for modelling of the neuronal basis of intelligence and learning are explored; in particular, Quartz and Sejnowski's recent neural constructivism paradigm, enriched by Montague and Sejnowski's dopaminergic model of anticipative-predictive neural learning, is assessed as a promising, but incomplete, contribution to this approach. The paper concludes with a fourfold reflection on the divergence in cognitive modelling philosophy between the I-C and the traditional computational information processing approaches. (shrink)